A group of girls' schools in the UK has announced that it will not accept transgender students over fears that it will 'jeopardize' their status as 'single-sex institutions.' The Girls' Day School Trust (GDST) updated its gender identity policy guidance document last month itself. Adding a new section on admissions in the amendment, GDST noted that their schools do not accept pupils who identify as women but are legally biologically male.
The GDST represents 23 private schools including Greater London's 137-year-old Sutton High School and two academies. The group defended their move by stressing that having a policy on 'gender identity' instead of the gender recorded on a pupil's birth certificate as it would would 'jeopardize the status of GDST schools as single-sex schools' under the 2010 Equality Act.
The document, however, added that if a girl student begins to transition while at one of the GDST schools, they would be supported to remain there as long as they want to. GDST claimed that the new policy was drawn up 'in collaboration with experts, teachers, and students.'
The debate about sex and gender
After GDST's circular surfaced, a teaching union, the Association of School of College Leaders (ASCL) called on the government to issue clearer guidance on the steps the schools will take upon receiving admission applications from transgender pupils. Julie McCulloch of ASCL told The Telegraph that headteachers are forced to participate in the controversial debate about sex and gender every time a student 'comes out.'
"It is a really big issue and the lack of formal guidance for schools is something that we are concerned about," she said.
'GDST schools do not accept applications from students who are legally male'
The GDST guidance states that an 'an admissions policy based on gender identity rather than the legal sex recorded on a student's birth certificate would jeopardize the status of GDST schools as single-sex schools under the act. For this reason, GDST schools do not accept applications from students who are legally male.'
Single-sex schools often face a dilemma when a pupil applies or admission on the basis of their gender identity rather than their biological sex. McCulloch noted that the issue becomes very difficult for a headteacher to deal with.
'You can't blanket ban transgender people from anything'
The new policy of GDST was wide criticized on social media. "You can't blanket ban transgender people from anything without that policy being ruled discriminatory," one person tweeted.